The Cynic's Autonomist Alliance

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Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
The Cynic's Autonomist Alliance

Now, y'all been saying it for a million years. The writers are too mean to the biocons, the capitalists get a bad rap. But the way I see, the problem ain't how the Jovians or the Consortium is portrayed. Capitalists are assholes. Conservatives are assholes. No, the problem, see, is that anarchists and socialists and libertarians are assholes too.

With that in mind, I decided to park my behind down by the ol' writing desk and type out a different Autonomist Alliance. As a tribute to the inspiring cynicism possessing Posthuman Studios when they developed the Planetary Consortium and the Jovian Republic, I present to you: The Cynic's Autonomist Alliance.

All feedback and ideas would be mighty kindly received. But do remember; I ain't looking for no utopia, and I don't care what you're selling — hypercapitalism and bioconservatism and autonomism is all the same horseshit to me.

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Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
The Autonomist Alliance

The Autonomist Alliance

In theory, the Autonomist Alliance is a mutual aid and collective defense treaty between a number of organizations and habitats in the outer system, whose members are equal in every way and united by nothing except their dedication to the Autonomist Points of Unity. But it's widely known and acknowledged that the AA in practice functions as the extended arm of the Titanian Commonwealth, the only signatory with a sizable standing army. What keeps the other members of the Alliance in their subservient positions is a combination of stick and bigger stick: The stick is the threat of Titanian military intervention, the bigger stick is the certainty of Jovian or Consortium invasion in case the Commonwealth decides to revoke its protection.

That is not to say that the Titanians are the only ones contributing anything to the Alliance. The resourceful drug cartels of the Scum, where clan loyalty is ensured by the unbreakable chains of addiction, and the hyperproductive sweatshops of the Extropians, whose child slaves have to buy replacements for limbs lost in arms manifacturing accidents in overprized company stores, both fill valuable niches in a complex web of interlocking economic and political systems centered on Saturn's shimmering moon. Admittedly, finding a use for the Anarchists has often proven a challenge for the Titanian elites, and more than once the option of cutting them loose and letting them fend for themselves has been seriously considered. In the end, though, Anarchist habs remain a useful dumping ground for malcontents, and Locus has produced some of the finest terrorists and guerilla insurgents in the Commonwealth's never-ending proxy wars with the Consortium and the Junta.

Due to its central position in the pact, an understanding of the Titanian Commonwealth is necessary to understand the Autonomist Alliance.

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Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
Titanian Commonwealth

Titanian Commonwealth

Government:

De jure, the Titanian Commonwealth is a "parliamentary direct cyberdemocracy" (this oxymoronic term tends to bother political theorists in the rest of the System, but native Titanians generally have more immediate concerns on their minds). De facto, it is an authoritarian oligarchy where power is carefully balanced between the Ministry of Information, the Security Police and the Fleet.

The Ministry of Information operates the Plurality, which is a public forum and voting system that functions as the legislative branch of the Titanian government. A complete lack of voter anonymity combined with the MI's control of everything from which questions are put to a vote to which citizens are allowed to participate in elections means that the Plurality long ago devolved into little more than a way for the people to loudly sing the praises of the current regime. Every once in a while a populistic rabble-rouser does manage to gain enough momentum to force through change via the ballot. Since this change more often than not is simply a variation of the ever-popular meme "let's disenfranchise and mistreat some specific minority group even more", the true rulers of Titan have few qualms about throwing the populace a few democratic bones.

The Security Police has files on everyone, and in a society as transparent as Titan these files can become pretty large. Political undesirables and freethinkers are kept under close watch when they are not simply shipped away to some remote work camp, and it's a universally known (but seldom talked about) fact that every Titanian muse doubles as an informant. Titan's dizzying multitude of laws and regulations means that it's impossible to walk through life without becoming a criminal for some reason or other, which suits the SP just fine as it gives them an excuse to take care of any bothersome citizens who refuse to learn their place. The SP closely monitors the Plurality, and lack of "democratic engagement" can be just as suspicious as openly expressing ideologically suspect opinions. And of course, many opinions are directly illegal; bioconservatism was officially declared a "hate crime" years ago.

The Fleet has little influence on domestic politics (although both the MI and the SP are acutely aware that orbital bombardment remains a credible threat), but completely dominates the Commonwealth's foreign policy. Strategic simulations have conclusively shown that an open war with the Consortium would lead to a Jovian invasion and an open war with the Jovians would lead to a Consortium invasion. For this reason the Fleet spends most of its energy playing kingmaker in different AA habs and supplying weapons and "military advisors" to various rebel and terrorist groups around the System. Since military service is one of the few ways of getting away from the oppressive social and political environment of Titan itself, there is never a shortage of volunteers willing to suffer through the grueling, psychologically harrowing training process, which more or less erases the original personality of the recruit and replaces it with a persona as cold and deadly as the moon they hail from.

Other branches of government are mostly inconsequential. The prime minister is little more than a puppet of the MI, and few of the other ministers have more than nominal control over their supposed departments and areas of authority. To maintain the appearance of democracy the MI allows the existence of a few political parties, but the only ones of any consequence are the Social Democratic and the Socialist Party. (The only right-wing party is the "Free Market Party", which for completely democratic and not at all suspicious reasons managed to gain the support of a grand total of 3% of the voters in the most recent ministerial election.) The actual differences between these two parties are to a large extent theoretical.

Economy:

Q: How does technosocialist employment differ from capitalist employment?
A: Under capitalism, the employees work and the hypercorps pay them. Under technosocialism, the employees pretend to work and the microcorps pretend to pay them.

For all the repression of Titan's politics, the true horrors of the Commonwealth arise from its economic system. To summarize: The Titanians have two currencies, the krone and rep. One is not worth the paper it's not printed on, the other serves little purpose other than social control. There is no incentive for anyone to do anything, and innovation is actively discouraged. The state owns all businesses and pay their citizen-slaves with fake money they can't use. There's a constant shortage of everything except cheap alcohol and propaganda. Only the threat of punishment keeps Titanian society barely working, and the only prosperous line of business is operating the black market egocasters.

To understand the Titanian economy, one must first understand the concept of a "microcorp". In accordance with the tenets of technosocialism, a microcorp is similar to a corporation in a capitalist system, except that it's controlled directly by the Plurality — not the people who work in it, or have any kind of expertise, history or investment in it — and that it's only allowed to pay its employees in "money" that can't be used for anything except as a donation to other microcorps. Needless to say, few people would actually work for a microcorp unless the refusal to work for a microcorp led to involuntary psychosurgery, imprisonment or, in the worst cases, banishment to an anarchist hab. The krone (plural "kroner", although some ignorant foreigners insist on using "kroner" as the singular as well) is, for no apparent reason, pegged to qubits, which has the interesting effect of creating a completely closed economic system which nonetheless has suffered from runaway inflation as a result of improved qubit production technology. Pretty much every microcorp has enough "money" to pay their employees millions of kroner, but few people are actually interested in becoming millionaires.

The "democratic" control of the microcorps in the early history of the Commonwealth led to immense inefficiency and chaos as non-experts saw it as their democratic right to meddle in everything from biotech to arms manufacturing while promising business ventures died in their cradles due to lack of popular support. Actual control of the microcorps long ago passed to the Big Three, which has improved matters somewhat. This means that Titan is a de facto command economy utilizing conscripted slave labor. The Fleet always manages to get its shiny new destroyers and experimental space weapons delivered on schedule, but it's not uncommon to see lower-class hazers walking around without shoes on the streets of Nyhavn. The current system is so inefficient that some bureaucrats have suggested gradually switching to a more traditional capitalist economy under the guise of "technosocialism with Titanian characteristics", but so far the old ideological vanguard remains in power.

In the vast black market, the credit is king. Especially profitable are the egocasters that every year beam tens of thousands of hopeful citizens off Titan. Of course, since these emigrants seldom have anything of value (the exchange rate between kroner and credits is best described as "ludicrous") little awaits them on the other side than the slavery of indentured servitude. Most find that the concrete differences between their new lives and their old lives are miniscule at best.

Titan also has a reputation economy. Autonomists are quick to point out that rep is not money and that a rep account is not the same thing as a bank account. This is true; complete strangers can't drain your bank account for disliking your political opinions or ethnic identity. The Titanian rep economy functions as little more than yet another method of social control, which if nothing else relieves the SP of some of its workload. If your rep is low enough, it becomes practically impossible to partake of what government handouts do exist. A high rep means that you are good at keeping your head down when not enthusiastically affirming the status quo, which means that those with a reasonably high rep generally avoid running afoul of the SP. Having a very high rep has the opposite effect, however; the last thing the SP needs is citizens with actual charisma running around.

People and culture:

Although only a small minority of the Commonwealth's 60 million citizens have a Scandinavian heritage, everyone who's anyone speaks Skandinavíska (a clumsy auxiliary language constructed by mashing together Danish, Norwegian and Swedish and spelling the resulting mess like a drunk Icelander). The Titanians officially embrace every culture and ethnicity, but subtle discrimination exists against recent and not-so-recent immigrants. If you want a job anywhere close to the upper echelons of the vast Titanian bureaucracy, you better make sure that your name ends in "-son" or "-dóttir". Many infugees do change their names and try to erase as much of their previous cultural and ethnic identities as possible, although the abundance of personal information and near-total lack of privacy means that they are still likely to face bigotry throughout their lives.

The majority of the population are infugees sleeved into cheap, identical "hazer" biomorphs with no regard given to personal bodily identity. Indeed, expressing any kind of individuality with your morph is highly suspect and frowned upon for everyone except a small class of elites. Hazers are plagued by a plethora of ailments and kinks, but the Commonwealth's refusal to use non-Titanian morph designs or actually pay anyone to develop something better means that the masses have few other options that aren't synthmorphs, and actually wanting to sleeve into a synth is a great way to get labeled as a dangerous radical by the Security Police. People with sizable off-world bank accounts tend to buy Extropian or Consortium morphs, but even these generally have the emaciated, northern European look of the hazer.

Although the Titanian constitution in theory gives uplifts and even AGIs the same rights as transhumans, the populistic politics of the Plurality means that those minorities are often subject to legal pogroms. Every once in a while the MI decides that these conflicts create too much disorder and puts a lid on what little democracy it allows in the first place, but most of the time the occasional lynching of a productive citizen is seen as a small price to pay for the population having an outlet for their frustation that isn't their government. The main defense of uplifts and AGIs alike is the fact that they are sleeved into the same dysfunctional humanoid morphs as everyone else, so it's not immediately obvious that the person you're talking to is actually a neo-pig.

The media in the Commonwealth is owned by the state, just like everything else. As such, they're little more than propaganda outlets for the Titanian government. Political satire, like the "edgy" Monster Raging Goblin Cock News Network, is very popular, but for some reason only the Consortium and the Junta end up as the butt of jokes, never the Commonwealth.

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Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
Later.

I'll type down the anarchists when I get some free time, but right now the missus wants me to clean up the kitchen and feed the parrots. If y'all got any ideas for how to make the anarcho-whatevers properly cynical, I'm all floppy pig ears.

And do tell me what you think of the Titanians. I have a feeling I have missed some potential opportunities for cynicism, and that will most certainly not do.

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thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
Your thought processes

Not sure I'd use this myself, but I appreciate creative output no matter the source. What I'm wondering is how much of this is directly changing things about how the civilizations in the core book work, and how much is simply viewing the existing civilizations through a different lens? Because I can totally see this as how a typical Martian or Venusian thinks of Titan.

"Still and transfixed, the el/
ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute

Lilith Lilith's picture
Heh

This was pretty fun to read, actually. Nice to see some alternate viewpoints now and then.

I'll be looking forward to more from you, SC.

Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
Anarchists

Here are the anarchists. I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever get around to the Scum and the Extropians. Part of the fun with writing cynically about the Titanians and the anarchists is that they are so immediately sympathetic. I honestly doubt that it's hard for people to figure out why roving clans of drug smugglers and unfettered capitalist CEOs with legal slaves might be bad neighbours.

Anarchists

Government:

Talking about the government of the anarchists might sound like a contradiction of terms, but the truth is that every tin can in the System have rulers and those ruled. Nowhere is that fact as apparent as in the brutal warlord kingdom that is the anarchist hab, where the strong howl in the victory and the weak serve on hands and knees.

One of the great ironies of human history is that anarchism has had the most success (for a given definition of that word) in the one environment least suited to lawlessness and disbelief in just authority: The unforgiving vacuum of space. In general, one can speak about two kinds of anarchists habs. The first is the kind where all nanofabricators are strictly controlled by a small group of heavily armed "democratic participatory people's militia volunteers" (or something to that effect). The second is the kind with big holes in the hull, and serenely floating anarchist corpses inside. Despite the best hopes of a few naïve ideologists, public ownership of the means of destruction turned out to be a uniformly bad idea. Anarchists are quick to claim that an armed hab is a polite hab. That may be true, but the seldom-discussed corollary is that an armed hab is a hab where impoliteness can quickly escalate into the death of thousands of transhumans via asphyxiation, explosion, or a number of other unpleasant methods of mass murder only one jailbroken fabber away.

In practice, the life of a normal anarchist is somewhat less rosy than the true believers of the Inner System imagine it to be. A typical anarchist hab is controlled by a petty strongman (or strongwoman, or strongperson: One thing that is true of anarchists is that they generously give everyone an equal opportunity to brutalize their fellow sapients.) to secure a monopoly on the available fabbers capable of creating weapons (which, due to the anarchists' distaste for DRM, is pretty much all of them). The individual anarchist's ability to survive then depends on their usefulness to this de facto feudal overlord, whose well-founded paranoia more often than not ensures that disloyalty is punished by spacing the "crypto-reactionary class traitor's" cortical stack after a "spontaneous impartial people's tribunal". In the habs so equipped, a lighter sentence might be a "consensual psychosurgical rehabilitation" to correct the offender's "false class consciousness".

However, the biggest threat to the reigning First Comrade is relatively seldom the people at the bottom of the power pyramid, but rather his own Praetorian Guard. As the only armed segment of the population, the militias are the ones who can unceremoniously unseat the ruler with a single bullet, and who can choose his successor from amongst themselves. Methods of dealing with this Sword of Damocles vary. Some rulers behave like indulgent Roman emperors, showering his troops in what riches his subjects can produce. Some opt to ask the Titanians for help, arguing that the hab's current regime is useful to the Alliance in some way. (Babysitting anarchist warlords is a common rookie chore in the Commonwealth Fleet.) Some get the muscle from other outside connections, most often Scum or non-autonomist criminals, but more than one "comrade" has a credit account on Ganymede or Mars. The most successful anarchists often have enough personal magnetism or even raw physical power to beat any potential opponents into submission, mentally and corporeally. Fear is the most useful weapon an anarchist ruler can have. Well, other than an actual weapon, that is.

That is not to say that anarchist governments are all about violence and bloody infighting. The better anarchist habs are no more dangerous than the slums of Valles-New Shanghai. Once a clear ruler or group of rulers have been established, and the brute force necessary to keep him or them in power has been exhibited, everyone quickly falls into their assigned roles. The interest the militias have in the lives of their comrades varies significantly from hab to hab, with benevolent apathy being the norm in a few cans. The more ideological rulers often attempt to micro-manage the private lives of the masses, with "bourgeois beauty norm-questioning revolutionary sexual conduct" (where you have to sleep with the ruler, even though he smells of space sewage) being enforced in some habs and "capitalist propaganda memeplex removal" (crude psychosurgery best described as lobotomy) being common in others.

Economy:

Q: How do you deal with cockroaches in Locus?
A: We just put up a sign saying "volunteer hydroponic farm". Then half the cockroaches will starve and the rest will run away.

The anarchist economy is, in theory, purely based on @-rep. In practice, one's rep is little more than a convenient reminder of one's place in the power hierarchy of a given anarchist hab. In doesn't really matter if your rep is higher than the guy asking to use your daughter when said guy is part of the armed militia and you're not. But pinging and dinging do function well as methods of expressing sycophantic approval of your betters and shunning those who catch the ire of those betters. An anarchist who does not ping the militia members, fabber operators and the "first secretary of the voluntary egalitarian people's council" (or whatever title the local warlord gives himself) whenever they show up is highly suspect, and dinging the same people as your rulers is expected behavior. If you ever have the privilege of being pinged by the top brass, you can be sure that your peers will do the same or suffer.

Anarchist society is officially post-scarcity and post-work. All bothersome jobs are undertaken by "voluntary solidaric activity collectives" who tend to be actively encouraged by gun-wielding militia members. Participation is completely voluntary, of course, as is breathing air and not vacuum. How dangerous and unpleasant these jobs are depend on your current favor with the hab's ruling class, with the militias generally not having to do anything except point guns at people who don't know their place. These people, on the other hand, often live in de facto slavery, with their every waking hour devoted to the dirtiest and most degrading "volunteer work" the rulers can come up with.

Most anarchist habs have a widespread underground market based around credits or even a pure barter economy. As on Titan, egocasters are high on the list of desired services. But actually getting off an anarchist hab often proves even more difficult than getting off Titan, since many of them actually function as the Commonwealth's prisons.

For that is the anarchists' main "export". The richest ruling comrades are those who accept Titanian credits (not even the anarchists want anything to do with kroner) in exchange for accepting criminal "immigrants" who tend to be either political undesirables who can't be charged in an even nominally fair trial, or the most psychologically unstable and dangerous offenders that the Titanians simply want off their moon. Often these egos are simply put in cold storage, but some warlords have an uncanny ability to find a place for the most violent psychopaths of the Saturnian system.

The second-largest source of revenue for anarchist habs are mercenary services. Many "true believers" among the anarchists are highly trained and fanatical terrorists with an undying hatred against every faction outside the Autonomist Alliance (and often several factions within the AA, as well), and the rulers are more than happy to "rent" these hotheads out to the Commonwealth's Fleet Intelligence. Using anarchist terrorists to strike at civilian targets gives the Titanians perfect deniability, as the story of a lone madman being behind the suicide bombing in Liberty City which claimed hundreds of flats is all to easy to believe.

People and culture:

Not much can be said about the people and culture of the anarchists, as they are every bit as diverse as they claim to be. Also true to the propaganda is the fact that some anarchist habs really are as accepting of uplifts and AGIs as the "party line" states. However, there are enough racist and speciesist habs to outweigh the tolerant ones. In the end, it all depends on the whims of the local ruler.

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mellonbread mellonbread's picture
I'm not positive, but I think

I'm not positive, but I think your Titanians might be pretty close to the "nanosocialists" from Transhuman Space

Did you hear the one about the guy who became a fence?

Spoiler: Highlight to view
They say he was a real posthuman
uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
A grim reinterpretation of

A grim reinterpretation of the AA, but interesting. Definitely some useful ideas to use even for those of us who have drank the Autonomist/Technosocialist koolaid.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
Thanks for the responses,

Thanks for the responses, people. If you don't think this fits in your game, I think it can at least give some ideas about how the Inner System polities think the AA work. Everyone always assumes the worst of their enemies, after all.

mellonbread wrote:
I'm not positive, but I think your Titanians might be pretty close to the "nanosocialists" from Transhuman Space

Nah, the nanosocialists are relatively conservative compared to the Titanians. They just want intellectual property to be owned by the state, the Commonwealth has abolished money altogether and wants everything to be owned by the state!

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Kremlin K.O.A. Kremlin K.O.A.'s picture
Very Saturday morning cartoon

Very Saturday morning cartoon villain, which does put it on the same level as book treatment of PC and Jovians.
Unfortunately that makes it useless for me, as I rewrite those two to be frightening and competent evil. Without social and structural holes in their defenses that mean a single PC group could topple their entire society.

Space Cynic Space Cynic's picture
Kremlin K.O.A. wrote:Very

Kremlin K.O.A. wrote:
Very Saturday morning cartoon villain, which does put it on the same level as book treatment of PC and Jovians.
Unfortunately that makes it useless for me, as I rewrite those two to be frightening and competent evil. Without social and structural holes in their defenses that mean a single PC group could topple their entire society.

The Titanians are plenty competent at what they do, and in the end I don't think their economic stupidity is more crippling than the PC's political chaos or the Jovians' backwardness. I imagine all three to be rather efficient but authoritarian oligarchies where the top brass knows what they're doing but have some kind of ideological baggage that limits their ability to use their resources to their fullest extent: The Consortium wants to do twenty different things at the same time due to its fractious hyperelite leadership, the Jovians are skeptical of any technology not found in Leave it to Beaver, and the Titanians are caught up micromanaging everything in their society due to their inability to let the market do any kind of self-organizing.

But yeah, the anarchists are a complete joke, I admit that. If you can find a realistic way to make them a credible threat, more power to you.

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Bursting Eagern... Bursting Eagerness Soul's picture
Space Cynic wrote:But yeah,

Space Cynic wrote:
But yeah, the anarchists are a complete joke, I admit that. If you can find a realistic way to make them a credible threat, more power to you.

I would point you to the relative ease of creating KKVs. I believe that there was bit in Rimward about how, with the right calculations, you can nudge an asteroid just right and have it slam into someone's hab in a few years. The same thing could theoretically be done with highly eccentric asteroids to drop one on Mars or Luna. It would be relatively easy to counter, but still...

In other words, firing off a laser with a sufficient TWR for the recoil to be noticeable would require a post-miracle-tech laser weighing less than a disposable plastic spoon and powerful enough to shoot down Death Stars? -- ShadowDragon8685

Soviet Onion Soviet Onion's picture
Yeah, nanotechnology rather

Yeah, nanotechnology rather clearly favors the attacker and disruptor, and the ability for cornucopia machines to self-replicate means you can conceivably package and string together a resource base with very little starting capital, and with a reduced (though not entirely eliminated) need for a pricing system to mediate economic calculations.

I don't see the PC as really being stupid or bwahaha evil in this regard. Their goal isn't just about economic realism or, as the public believes, the only workable alternative to chaos or totalitarian socialism. It's a practical security thing. A single person could make a WMD. Their obsession with restricting full nanotech to fully licensed and ideologically reliable hypercorps is telling you precisely where the anarchists have the advantage.

Much like real life social democrats, I see the Titanians as trying to walk a middle path by redirecting those same monopolistic command structures toward different ends, rather than just dismantling them. They need to compromise and regiment democracy in order to make it stable enough to throw their weight around. They think in the same terms as the PC and the Jovian Republic, and not in purely subversive/disruptive terms of anarchist saboteurs, extropian smugglers or scum hedonists. Although obviously the ubiquity of sousveillance and the viability of e-democracy has radically altered both of them relative to classical neoliberalism/social democracy.


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Bursting Eagern... Bursting Eagerness Soul's picture
Do you have any objections to

Do you have any objections to people carrying on this thread? It isn't to my taste (I prefer to uplift rather than drag down to get things on the same-ish level), but others may enjoy using what he posted.

In other words, firing off a laser with a sufficient TWR for the recoil to be noticeable would require a post-miracle-tech laser weighing less than a disposable plastic spoon and powerful enough to shoot down Death Stars? -- ShadowDragon8685

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Thread is open.

The thread is open.

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